Ocean Spray Plant Director Discusses Benefits of Lehigh Valley Location
By Colin McEvoy on April 27, 2022
Everyone knows Ocean Spray and their brand of juices, fruit snacks, and other products. But not everybody knows that 42% of all their products made in the United States are manufactured right here in the Lehigh Valley.
Chad Hammerly, Plant Director with the Ocean Spray Lehigh Valley facility in Upper Macungie Township, discussed this and much more during his April 24 video interview as part of the National Museum of Industrial History’s (NMIH) Meet the Manufacturer virtual lecture series.
“Most of the U.S. population is concentrated on the East Coast, so being here in Lehigh Valley as many other manufacturers are, it’s a great hub where you can quickly get to a lot of population within a short distance,” Hammerly said. “With transportation costs and logistics, it makes it a lot easier to be here, so that’s why we decided to come to the Lehigh Valley.”
The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is the series sponsor for the Meet the Manufacturer series, which seeks to introduce cutting-edge Lehigh Valley companies and their innovations to viewers near and far.
“Here at the museum we seek to explore not only the past, but also the present and future of industry in America,” said Kara Mohsinger, President & CEO of NMIH.
The full video interview with Hammerly can be found here or viewed below:
Ocean Spray opened its 300,000 square foot facility in Upper Macungie Township in 2004, investing $110 million into the project. The company employs 200 workers at the Lehigh Valley plant.
Food and beverage manufacturing plays an important role in the Lehigh Valley’s economy, and is one of the four target sectors for business attraction in LVEDC’s new strategic plan.
The sector includes nearly 6,000 jobs in the Lehigh Valley, with an annual employment growth of 4.3% over the last five years. Additionally, Lehigh County has more beverage manufacturers than any other county in Pennsylvania.
Hammerly discussed a wide range of topics during the interview, including the career path that led him to the Lehigh Valley. After working as a jet engine mechanic in the U.S. Navy, he worked in the aerospace industry for a time before starting a career in manufacturing.
“I never thought about manufacturing as a kid (but) I decided to make a change in my career,” he said. “I started in a manufacturing environment, really enjoyed it, and felt like it was a good fit for me. It was exciting, there’s a lot to learn, and there’s always something new happening, new challenges every day.”
Ocean Spray is an agricultural cooperative that was started in 1930 by three cranberry growers who wanted to expand their market for cranberries, Hammerly said. Today, more than 700 cranberry farm families own the company.
“That’s something that most people don’t know about us, that all the profit the company generates at the end of the year goes back to 700 farming families,” he said. “It’s such a great thing to know that we’re supporting these families rather than a large corporation trading stocks and things like that.”
Hammerly discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic affected production and the workforce at Ocean Spray’s Lehigh Valley facility. The company experienced significant supply chain issues and labor shortages during the crisis, but had strong protocols in place to keep its employees safe, and are now full-staffed once again.
He also highlighted the Lehigh Valley plant’s innovative approach to energy efficiency, Ocean Spray’s partnerships and community involvement in the region, and efforts the company undertakes to train its employees and develop the workforce of tomorrow, including working with the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley to educate people on career opportunities at the plant.
“I think a lot of people don’t realize all the different great careers we have in manufacturing,” Hammerly said. “There are lot of opportunities in a manufacturing environment for people without a college degree to still make six figures a year. All it takes is a can-do attitude, a willingness to learn, and some drive and determination, and people can go very far here.”
NMIH is dedicated to preserving America’s rich industrial heritage. It is located in a 100-year-old former Bethlehem Steel facility on the largest private brownfield in the United States, and is home to exciting exhibits, engaging programs, and amazing history.
Lehigh Valley Industrial Park is the premier sponsor for the Meet the Manufacturer series.
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